According to statistics from 2018, nearly 500,000 Minnesota residents (around 9% of the state population) are foreign-born individuals. Immigrants have brushes with the law in the same way American citizens do, but, depending on what kind of visa you have, your status as an immigrant may mean you receive different treatment following a criminal conviction.
If a noncitizen commits a serious criminal offense in the US, authorities often try to have that person deported. However, less serious crimes are not as likely to result in expulsion from the country.
So, can a DWI conviction in Minnesota result in deportation?
DWI Offenses & Deportation
Perhaps the most relevant factor when it comes to DWI offenses by noncitizens is your specific immigrant status. If you’re an illegal immigrant, the outcome of your charge may not matter; once the authorities discover your undocumented status following your arrest, they will likely refer your case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
If you’re a legal noncitizen (meaning you hold a visa or green card), deportation is a less likely outcome for you following a DWI arrest. However, it’s still a possibility; depending on the seriousness of your offense, authorities might decide to expel you from the country. Also, a DWI conviction on your record will make it more difficult for you to succeed in a future admission application if you leave the US and try to return at a later date.
A factor that’s always crucial to consider is the severity of your offense. A first-time DWI offense with no aggravating factors is much less likely to get you in trouble with immigration authorities than an aggravated DWI offense. Aggravating factors in Minnesota DWI cases include a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.16% or higher, a DWI conviction within the last 10 years, and the presence of a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
If a police officer arrests you for a DWI offense, they will collect and file data from you (such as your fingerprints). Even if the DWI arrest does not lead to a charge or conviction, these records could make life difficult for you in any subsequent exchange with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How Does Deportation Work?
The federal government can deport non-US citizens for a number of reasons, including criminal activity and visa issues.
If you arrive in the country without documentation and the authorities later apprehend you (such as during a DWI incident), they may be able to remove you from the country relatively quickly, depending on surrounding circumstances. If you entered the country lawfully, you will likely be subject to a longer deportation process involving a special immigration judge.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of facing deportation, you should contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law.
What Is Inadmissibility?
Inadmissibility refers to the set of laws that can prevent a person from entering the United States, or from changing their immigration status while already here. There are a number of grounds for inadmissibility, including;
- The commission of a crime of moral turpitude, which is an offense that is regarded as morally reprehensible or depraved
- Convictions of two or more crimes carrying a sentence of five years or more
- Addiction to alcohol or drugs
- Commission of a crime involving a controlled substance
A first-time Minnesota DWI offense with no aggravating factors will not generally lead to inadmissibility.
Will You Be Able to Stay in the Country Following a DWI?
A DWI charge is never welcome, especially if you’re concerned it might affect your right to live in the US. However, the good news is that an arrest for potential drunk driving will not automatically result in you having to leave.
To give yourself the best chance of staying safe after a DWI charge, you should enlist the help of a specialist attorney. Contact us today for a free review of your case.